The Allen Airways Fly In San Diego May 10-11, 2013
Now I have always been a huge fan of aviation, but more towards the planes of the second World War and after, so when I got a call on a Thursday night from a fellow Photorecon photojournalist, about covering a story for him, I was a little apprehensive, as the story was about a group of Boeing/Sterman owner’s who would be having an invite only fly in.
When I arrived at the meeting location, it was at the Polo Grounds near Del Mar, CA., in San Diego County. Here I was, standing on these beautiful well taken care of grass fields stretching for acres, with a club house and horse corrals to the side. The weather was your typical Southern California perfection with sun, some clouds, and a cool breeze blowing in from the ocean.
Soon, there was a low rumbling of sound coming from the east, and after a few seconds, I could see a formation of old bi-planes heading towards the landing field, that had been set up with traffic cones and flags. There were two groups of planes and they all flew over the field, some in formation with other trailing behind. They made several passes, before planes started to land individually.
Immediately, I was struck with a feeling of nostalgia, as this was the way it was done back in the 1930’s and 40’s. When there wasn’t an air field present, the pilots would simply land in a farmers field. As soon as I witnessed this, I became a fan of these people and their planes.
12 planes landed and the pilots and passengers were greeted by family and friends to this annual event. The planes came in various colors, but most prominent were the planes that had been used a military trainers, bright yellow or blues, with various other colors painted on their fuselage. After exchanging handshakes and short conversations, the group gathered at the picnic benches set under the old Pepper trees by the Club House for lunch.
After several hours it was time to take off and head back to Gillespie Field in El Cajon, CA. I found out that the next day (Saturday), the group would be flying from El Cajon, west towards the Pacific Ocean near La Jolla, and then head south over Mission and San Diego Bays, before heading back to Gillespie. At 12 pm. I found myself on top of Mount Soledad waiting for the Stermans. I received a call from one of the pilots, who informed me that the group would be joined by another group of pilots out of Brown Field, in San Diego, and they would be flying Buckers, a German made bi-plane.
Later on on the afternoon, I was invited to come to Allen Airways (owned by organizer of the event Bill Allen) and photograph their sunset formation flight over Gillespie and then they very kindly asked me to share in their catered Barbeque feast, which was extremely good, especially after a long day of shooting.
I am now officially a fan these planes, while they do not fly as fast as a World War II fighter or a modern day jet. There is something about the slowness, the grace and classic lines of these aircraft, and the memories of when days were simpler and less stressful.
I would like to thank Bill Allen, David Vopat and all of the other folks who made me feel like I was one of them, and for giving me the opportunity to share this experience with these beautiful Boeing/Stermans.